Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1934, Jim Lehrer attended Victoria College. In 1956, he received a Bachelor's journalism degree from the University of Missouri before joining the Marine Corps, where he served three years as an infantry officer. For the following decade, Lehrer worked as a reporter in Dallas, before moving on to a local experimental news program on public television.
He came to Washington with PBS in 1972 and teamed up with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Senate Watergate hearings. In 1975, they started what became "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report" and then the "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" in 1983, the first 60-minute evening news program on television.
The program became The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer in 1995 when MacNeil retired. Lehrer has received numerous awards for his work, including a presidential National Humanities Medal in 1999. He also has moderated ten of the nationally televised candidate debates in the last five presidential elections.
Lehrer is the author of 17 novels, including Eureka (2007), The Phony Marine (2006), The Franklin Affair (2005), and Flying Crows (2004). He has also written two memoirs and three plays. Lehrer and his wife, Kate, have been married since 1960. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.
Jim Lehrer: The one person that I’ve always wanted to interview and have not is J.D. Salinger. And the only question I would ask him is . . . not the one question . . . would be, “Why do you remain so silent so long? And what is it that you would like to say now?” And hopefully he ______. I’m reading “Catcher in the Rye”. It really was a major, major move for me in my development as a kid writer. And I just love “Catcher in the Rye.” And so he’s just . . . Salinger and his work have always been very important to me. In terms of . . . I don’t think there are . . . there are a lot of dead people that I would have loved to have interviewed, but there are no . . . I’m not longing . . . There are no big world leaders that I’m waiting to interview or whatever. It’s people like J.D. Salinger.